Friday, January 14, 2005

My Life's Ingredients

I like to bake. Especially at Christmastime. Part of the reason could be that I like to eat baked goods, but I'm going to set that aside for the time being.

With each recipe is a list of ingredients and a notation telling me how much to use. After the third different cookie recipe, it's pretty easy to see that many recipes are very similar. You almost always use sugar, flour and baking soda. Sometimes you throw in peanut butter or chocolate chips. Maybe you get to use brown sugar or powdered sugar. Then there's vanilla, coconut flakes, nuts, cocoa, and. . . better stop there, I'm getting hungry!

But my point is that there are always ingredients - the stuff that you make things with. And it works that way with life too, from what I can see.

All of us are "baked" with the ingredients of our lives. Usually they'll be similar - childhood, grandparents, job, kids, etc. But the differences are there too. Sometimes the amounts are different. Other times we are made with "freak ingredients" like tragedy or fame. And so no matter how similar we seem, we are actually all so incredibly distinct.

I like to tell everyone never to assume that other people look at things with the same perspective as you. I like that idea. I learn so much from the way other people view the same things as me but see things so differently. I hope you and I can learn from the unique perspective we each have.

The ingredients of my life may be pretty basic, but like everyone I have my own set of "freak ingredients" to deal with. I'm in my 40's, married with 3 kids aged 3-13. I have two jobs, each of which take up too much of my time which somehow causes me to spend too little time on them. One job is mostly seasonal - May through October. My other job is pastor of a small church.

"Yikes! Not a pastor?!" Yup, a pastor. Already many of you have "defined" me. But I'll bet you're off a bit. I haven't always been a pastor. For 10 years I worked in radio, mostly as a DJ and a Program Director. I've done other jobs too. Heck, I grew up working at my dad's shoe store, so I've been working for years. But there have been times I've had no job. I've been fired from my job through no fault of my own - twice.

I've had my share of tragedy too. Almost 14 years ago, my wife and I lost our first child - less than 24 hours after his birth. I'd be lying if I told you that still doesn't affect me. But I've found that God doesn't promise us a perfect life. He promises that He will strengthen us through the bad times. There are times when that doesn't impress me. It hurts to hurt. And sometimes I'd rather just be mad. But those times are fewer and farther between these days, and I think that's only because my relationship with my Strengthener and Comforter is stronger.

I have plenty of other interests. I've always been a sports fan although the past few years I've narrowed down the list of sports I follow. I've been a fan of Indycar Racing since childhood, and moderate an Indycar discussion forum at in my spare time. I love NFL football - Bears fan and the past few years a Colts fan too. Most of the baseball I watch these days are the games my sons are playing in. I'm also big into music (the radio background almost requires this interest), love animals, and can find few things as satisfying as a good nap!

I'm also pretty opinionated (you knew that from the "pastor" remark, didn't you?) and love a good debate, but I find that there are a lot of things which aren't worth the time to get upset about. I do always find time to remind my wife that I'm always right, though. Then I duck!

So all the ingredients are stirred and room in the bowl is left for the secret added ingredients (funny how God doesn't finish with us until we're finished here on earth). And from here I embark on reflecting on the things which grab my attention and trying to get them to make sense. Sometimes my atttention span is short. Other times it is not. But I struggle to pay attention and make the most of what I have been given.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I could use a cookie.

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